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Album Review

Mototeru Takagi / Kim Dae Hwan / Choi Sun Bae: Seishin - Seido


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Mototeru Takagi / Kim Dae Hwan / Choi Sun Bae: Seishin - Seido
Seishin-Seido represents another heads up on the depth of the Japanese free jazz community from the Lithuanian NoBusiness imprint as part of its partnership with Chap Chap Records. They raid the archives for a live date from 1995 in the southern city of Hofu, which actually unites two Korean musicians, trumpeter Choi Sun Bae and percussionist Kim Dae Hwan with a Japanese tenor saxophonist of Korean descent, Mototeru Takagi. Their credentials are good. As doyens of the scene, they have often individually collaborated with visiting improvisers, including bassist Barre Phillips, reedman Evan Parker, drummer Milford Graves and guitarist Derek Bailey among others.

However, of the six cuts, three are solo, one for each participant, two are duets and only the final eight-minute track features the threesome together. Takagi's raw yet burnished tone and controlled delivery recalls John Gilmore, not least in his concentration on the middle and lower registers, although blues inflections are largely absent. In a duet with Bae on the opening title cut, he sculpts short phrases around which the trumpeter wraps his sinuous slithering lines in an engrossing unhurried dialogue. A listener might be hard-pressed to geographically locate the pairing as there is nothing distinctively Japanese (or Korean for that matter) about their interaction.

Hwan's unaccompanied "Natural Sound" does have a feel of somewhere other than North America or Europe. That is partly due to his technique. The sleeve photo shows him standing to play wielding two or more sticks in each hand, which favors a linear rather than polyrhythmic approach. But this is also partly due to his self-contained bursts of gong or drum, distinguished by variations of volume, timbre and urgency, which often suggest a ritual dimension.

Alone on "Life Cycle" Bae waxes reflective, his sustained tones and reveille-like fanfares shaded by breathy vibrato, which he contrasts with detours into whistles, squeals and other timbral distortions. Takagi tends similarly meditative on "Remember," tender and fragmented, although occasionally songlike. But Hwan's involvement, even though he does not supply a pulse, inclines to add more impetus and momentum, stoking Takagi's stirring tenor cries on "Ethyopia" and hustling both saxophone and trumpet on the closing "Step By Step," latterly in explosive call and response with Bae.

Both Takagi and Hwan have since died and Bae is now 80 years old, so their meeting won't be repeated. It nonetheless merits attention from those looking for a different slant on the sometimes familiar fire music tropes.

Track Listing

Seishin - Seido; Natural Sound; Remember; Ethyopia; Step by Step.


Mototeru Takagi: saxophone, soprano; Choi Sun Bae: trumpet; Kim Dae Hwan: percussion.

Album information

Title: Seishin - Seido | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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